Some things don’t need fixing. Witness “New Coke” in Atlanta about 25 years ago — somebody thought they could fix Coca-Cola. Duh!! How would you improve a ’57 Chevy? Did anybody give Elvis singing lessons? Who would have stopped Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and said “Wait, you’re doing that all wrong: you dance backwards and let her dance forwards, and by the way, lose the top hat and cane.”?
I have been working on a Shaker Candle Stand the last few days and I
Googled it for some reason. Do you know how many people think they can
improve on the original? Listen, Homer, it is done. It is completed.
Do not sit down and say, “I think I will re-design the Shaker Candle
Stand — I can do better.”
You cannot add ball and claw feet to this thing. You cannot carve
deep philosophical thoughts into the top of it. Do not add fancy
gingerbread brackets to the underside of the table. If you simply
cannot resist, then go carve clown faces in your hope chest. The candle
stand was completed 200 years ago and it is done. I don’t have a
problem with trying to improve your technique, make the dovetails
better, upgrade your skew skills on the post, that sort of thing. But
nobody has improved on it in 200 years and I can tell you, Ralph, you
are not going to help it.
Go watch the Roy Underhill video
on making one of these babies and listen to St. Roy expound on the
shape of that marvelous center post. I love this little table, it is
probably my favorite thing to try to make and I have parts of one going
nearly all the time in my shop. The dovetails are difficult for me, but
I will get better.
A couple of years ago I went to New England to take a class and while
there I went by the Hancock Shaker Village for a tour. They have a
beautiful Candle Stand there and it is the one I try to make each time.
If my effort does not match this beautiful example, it is a lack of
skill on my part, not because I think I can improve on it.
What do you think? Let me hear from you.